Michael Hunter was hoping to stay busy and get a win to close 2021, but narrowly — and probably luckily — avoided defeat by going to a draw with Jerry Forrest in tonight’s TrillerVerz main event.
Judges scored the fight 96-94 for Hunter, 96-94 for Forrest, and 95-95. Bad Left Hook had the fight 96-94 for Forrest.
The two had fought back in 2014, when Hunter (20-1-2, 14 KO) was in just his fifth pro fight and still barely above cruiserweight, the division he would settle into seriously from 2015-17 before moving back up to heavyweight. In that fight, Hunter won every round, shutting Forrest out over eight.
But times have changed. Forrest (26-4-2, 21 KO) has repeatedly proven himself to be dangerous as an opponent; you may recall him losing an extremely questionable decision to Jermaine Franklin on ShoBox in 2019, or losing a competitive fight against Carlos Takam in 2020, or earlier this year, when he got a draw against Zhilei Zhang in a fight he could have won.
Hunter, 33, just looked off all night in this one, which is not to take anything away from Forrest. Even early, when I felt Hunter was winning rounds, he didn’t look near as sharp as he does when he’s at his best, and by the third Forrest started tagging him with clean lefts from the southpaw stance, which didn’t really stop.
Hunter nearly vomited coming out before the sixth round, which would have been a medical TKO loss if he had (or if referee Arthur Mercante Jr had decided that what happened was enough), and he put in a hard charge in the seventh round, looking a bit desperate to get a finish. The finish didn’t come, and he had to get through the remainder of the fight.
Hunter did continue to give a great effort, but Forrest was just doing cleaner work. Hunter never got into a rhythm in this fight, and Forrest dictated more of it, especially in the second half.
As lucky as Hunter is to leave with a draw, it also definitely hurts his stock as a contender and possible title challenger, while for Forrest, it’s hard not to feel bad for a B-side guy who keeps having nights like this.
- George Arias SD-10 Cassius Chaney: Judge John Basile scored 96-94 for Chaney, which is a terrible card, right there with Don Trella’s Teofimo Lopez card last Saturday. Boxing is back in Da Big Apple, baby! Bad Left Hook had this 98-92 for Arias, right in between the judges who got it right and had it 97-93 and 99-91 for the rightful winner. Arias (17-0, 7 KO) is no special, blue chip prospect or anything, but he’s a 29-year-old, well-schooled boxer, and he took advantage of the 34-year-old Chaney (21-1, 14 KO) just having no depth in his game, or at least not showing any. Basic feints and foot work seemed to have Chaney confused pretty early on, and he never really got going again after getting buzzed in the third round. Hard not to say he got pretty well exposed here. As much as “bridgerweight” should not exist, Arias might be fit for that division, because he is small for a modern heavy and not exactly an Oleksandr Usyk. But he stepped up and won this fight clearly, no matter what one card said. It wasn’t thrilling and it wasn’t action-packed, but he dictated this fight.
- Khainell Wheeler UD-6 Frederic Julan: A light heavyweight bout and a minor upset, I suppose, with Philadelphia’s Wheeler going to 6-1 (5 KO) on scores of 58-56, 59-55, and 59-55. I had the fight even at 57-57, but if I had to pick a winner I’d have gone with Wheeler, too, who I thought landed the more effective shots on the whole, with Julan (12-1, 10 KO) not doing enough for the judges’ tastes, which is fair. I edged the fourth to Julan by just a bit which is what made it even for me, but it was a good little fight, nice action, never dragged at all, and a hungry underdog got a win. Can’t argue with it.
- Mike Balogun TKO-1 Trey Lippe: Because Triller presentation is aggressively exaggerated even by boxing standards — which is saying a lot — they kept talking about Balogun (18-0, 14 KO) being a former “NFL standout” and stuff, by which they meant he was an undrafted free agent out of college who played in a couple games for the Bills in 2010 and spent some time on practice/offseason squads. The 38-year-old has a decent look about him in the ring, though, and he absolutely smoked Lippe (18-1, 17 KO), the 32-year-old son of Tommy Morrison. Lippe was down twice and pretty much out on his feet the second time, which is where referee Eddie Claudio rightfully stopped it. Lippe took a couple extra shots because the second knockdown saw him drop quick to a knee and then try to bounce back up. He’s a tough dude and has admitted he’s learning on the job, but this was a pretty bad exposure of his empty record. Balogun will have a short window, but if I were a promoter with top heavyweights, I’d take a look at him. Get him in with someone like Rydell Booker or Joe Cusumano or Kingsley Ibeh and see if there’s anything there.
Mike Balogun wasted no time dispatching Trey Lippe!— FITE (@FiteTV) December 3, 2021
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- Joe Jones KO-2 Junior Wright: Jones (13-4, 10 KO) was hitting Wright (18-04-1, 15 KO) with some right hands in the first round and knocked him down late. Then he punched him some more and knocked him down again early in the second, and the referee waved it off without a count, which was fair because Wright kept getting punched and knocked down.